Schools PFIs ‘before Christmas’
“We’re expecting the first PFIs by the end of the year,” said one contractor.
“It looks like there are going to be two batches out before Christmas,” added another source.
Although it had been anticipated that the PFI element would have to wait until the new year, the signs are that the first two batches will be released in December – shortly after the Treasury publishes its long awaited review of PFI.
That announcement is now slated for the Autumn Statement on 5 December and sources in the industry now expect the PFI schools programme to begin in the days that follow.
However, one source questioned the timing, noting it would be tight to get things in place after the Treasury announcement but before the Christmas break.
The EFA has already launched a series of bidders’ days for those schools being funded by direct government investment. The first is taking place this week, while another will be held next week, with further ones to follow.
The bidders’ days will cover specific geographic regions, allaying previous fears that the batches would see schools from across the country grouped together, which would have made it difficult for local contractors to get involved and for builders to deliver economies of scale.
Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to introduce “dozens” of free schools to the capital. Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Johnson announced the creation of the New Schools for London body that will help find sites for new schools.